08/17/2012 03:32 pm ET Updated Oct 17, 2012

Helping a Nation of Children


I am truly honored to be named a White House Champion of Change for all the PTA parents who volunteer so hard for all their children.

I can remember that day when I took my first son to kindergarten with my other son on my hip. Scared for him, scared for me to get involved, but yet I knew I needed to be there for him so that he could get the best possible education experience ever. I was lacking in self-esteem when I was told that parents weren't allowed to volunteer in the kindergarten classroom. I went home to cry and said that I would never return to that school. It wasn't but a couple of days after this happened that the principal called to tell me that I indeed was wanted and needed at the school. I went back and became involved because it was that important to me to be at school. Through involvement in PTA, my self-esteem grew and I was able to move on to leadership positions in my school's PTA, 15th District PTA, and Kentucky PTA.

We need to be active and involved with our children as they go through the crucial years of schooling. Involvement comes in many forms from volunteering at school, giving your child a good breakfast, asking them about their day at school, to having a quiet place for them to do their homework and being an advocate for your children. It didn't take me long to realize that I and others needed to be the voice for all children. That is why I got involved in the PTA 36 years ago.

All through the years, I have been involved in numerous projects for Kentucky PTA and 15th District PTA but none has been more gratifying then working on the National PTA grant about the Common Core Standards. As project lead, I was able to organize a team who has reached over 9,000 parents and community members through 50 workshops to educate them about the common core standards. We have informed over 850,000 parents through Facebook, newsletters, Twitter and other venues about the standards. We held "Brown Bag" lunches for Ron Mazzoli Federal Building employees sponsored by the U.S. Army Corp. of Engineers-Louisville District, all the public librarians in Louisville, YMCA Child Enrichment staff, Greater Louisville Inc. Bingham Fellows, Urban League Parent Leadership Academy, St. Peters United Church of Christ along with many schools.

Two of our greatest experiences in doing these workshops with help from translators were the Americana Center, where there were people from nine different countries represented (France, Cuba, Somalia, Congo, Burundi, Bosnia, Karen, Burma, and Thailand) learning how they can help their children be college and career ready. The other one was the Toyota Literacy Program with parents who spoke only Spanish. With the help of translators, we were able to educate groups of parents who sometimes feel out of the loop. They were so excited that we were there for them.

The service that we provide in training parents about the common core standards will be instrumental in providing them with tools to help their children be college and career ready when they graduate from high school. What better way to help parents be involved in their child's education!

My children are grown now, but I have grandchildren and a whole nation of children that need my voice and other PTA members' voices.

Sharon Whitworth has been recognized by the White House as a Champion of Change for her work in the PTA.